Adding new sightings to my Newstead list happens infrequently these days. I’ve been sitting on No 216 (Common Greenshank) since Xmas, but have been especially on the lookout for other new waders on the drying mudflats at Cairn Curran.
On Friday night, where Joyce’s Creek enters the storage, I spotted a pale, slender wader poking about in the shallows in the company of some Black-winged Stilts. Somewhat like a small Greenshank, I immediately plumped for Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis – aptly also known as the Little Greenshank. I sent some images to a trusted advisor who confirmed the identification. One thing that struck me from some brief flight observations was how the legs protruded well beyond the tail – a useful diagnostic feature it seems.
The Marsh Sandpiper is another of those northern hemisphere waders to visit Australia over summer. Good numbers have been reported over recent months in southern Victoria – 80+ were recently observed at the Western Treatment Plant. Their preferred habitat is described as ‘permanent or ephemeral wetlands of varying salinity, including swamps, lagoons, billabongs, saltpans, saltmarshes, estuaries, pools on inundated floodplains, and intertidal mudflats and also regularly at sewage farms and saltworks’. The species breeds in areas extending from eastern Europe to eastern Siberia, in places such as Russia, Mongolia and China. Apparently most birds spend the non-breeding period in Africa and Indian subcontinent, with smaller numbers having their ‘summer holidays’ in Australia.
A delight to see one in Newstead!
Click here to learn more about the Marsh Sandpiper.